My Half Marathon Training Plan

Half Marathon Training Plan - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Since I shared that I’m putting together my own training plan for Bacchus Half Marathon in September a few people have asked if I would share my plans. Normally I’m reluctant to share training plans I’ve put together myself, I’m not a coach and I don’t want anyone to hurt themselves following something I’ve put together myself. However, I’ve hacked this one together from some very reliable sources - Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s return to running programme, and Robin Arzon’s book Shut Up And Run (you can read my review here) - so I feel a bit more comfortable putting my plans out there.

This plan is designed for me, and where I’m at as a runner might be different to where you’re at. If you're new to running this might not be the best plan for you, and if you’re coming back from injury please chat to the team you’re working about what approach they think would be best for you. Robin says it best really:

If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it!

Blindly following any training plan is stupid. Yes, you will be uncomfortable and probably sore. No, you shouldn’t run with the flue or a bone sticking out of your leg. Training plans are not static. If your best day to rest is different than prescribed, then change your training to make it work. The training you make time for is infinitely better than the training that falls off because the plan doesn’t fit with your schedule. Remember, it’s ok to take additional rest days, but take the rest you need, not the rest you want. There’s a difference.

Right, let’s get into it!

XT = cross training (i like to take a spin class or strength train), RP = race pace

Half Marathon Training Plan - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

The first three weeks of this plan are all about walk/run intervals. Because I’ve been injured I want to take things slowly and make sure I don’t over do things before I’m even really started. I’ve also kept most of my long runs as run/walk, something Charlie inspired me to do after she shared she was walking for a minute for each mile of her long runs, which should keep my pace down and mean I’m a bit kinder to my body.

The easy runs I’ve put in this plan are exactly that - EASY. I like how Robin explains what it means to run easy:

when you can pass the talk test. Can you sing a verse of your favourite song or talk to a friend during the run? Good. Maintain that conversational pace throughout the entire run. You don’t want to burn out early.

Intervals/hills were some of my very favourite sessions when I was training for The Speed Project, and I’m excited to incorporate them into training for Bacchus, once I am a bit fitter and stronger! I’m still thinking about exactly what these workouts will look like, but I will share them once I’ve got it nailed. Prepare to sweat and feel awesome!

Finally, recovery. I am all about yin yoga at the moment. I find it calms my nervous system and opens up my body in a way no other yoga practice does, so I’m planning to incorporate at least one session a week.

So there you go, my plan to get back up and running in 12 weeks! Let me know what you think!

* images: Anna Rachel Photography

* my trainers were GIFTED by 361 Europe.


My Next Race...Bacchus Half Marathon

I’m back!

Or at least I hope I’m back…I ran my first miles (well, run/walked) since The Speed Project yesterday and they felt good! I had no pain, my body and my form both felt strong and although I’m a little sore this morning (mostly because I haven’t trained for the last week or so because I’ve been chained to my desk) I feel like I’m in a good place to start training for my next race - Bacchus Half Marathon.

My Next Race Bacchus Half Marathon - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Bacchus is a fun race set in the stunning surroundings of the Denbies Vineyard near Dorking in the South of England. Most people turn up in fancy dress (although as a notorious hater of fancy-dress I’m get to be persuaded on that one!), there are bands playing around the course and along the course there are FIVE DIFFERENT WINE STATIONS! It’s also a race I’ve had my eye on for years, and it falls right before my birthday, making it the perfect birthday day out!

When I injured myself just 1.5 miles into The Speed Project and then made the decision to keep going on an injury, I did worry about how much damage I was going to do to myself and how long it would be before I would get to run again. It was a risk I was willing to take, but don’t get me wrong I didn’t take it lightly. Two things worked in my favour when it came to recovery - the first was that I put myself on rest as soon as we got to Las Vegas, no running and limiting how much I walked, and the second was the work I’d put in before The Speed Project. I was fit and it meant the damage wasn’t as bad as it could’ve have been, so I was in a good place to get myself back up and going relatively quickly (around two and a half months) with the help of the sports therapists at London Metropolitan University.

My Next Race Bacchus Half Marathon - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Over the last few months all of my training has been focused on recovery. I’ve been building strength and addressing some asymmetry that meant my injured leg had been over compensating, spinning to keep my fitness up and yoga to stretch out and improve my mobility. I feel like I’m in a great place to start training again and hopefully come back stronger in the long run.

Although I’ve worked with coaches for my last few events, this time I’m going it along. This is partly a financial decision - dogs and weddings are expensive - and partly because I want this training cycle to focus on joy rather than performance, something that sometimes gets lost when you’re working with coaches. Instead I’ve used all my experience and everything I’ve learnt over the first few years to hack together my own training plan.

My Next Race Bacchus Half Marathon - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Because I’ve been out for so long I don’t want to dive back into running loads of milage, so for the first 3 weeks I’ll be walk/running, gradually upping the amount of time I’m running for as the week’s go on. It’s been so long since I’ve incorporated walk/run into my training and it would be easy to feel like it was a bit of a step back, but I’m actually really excited, especially after chatting to Charlie about how much she’s enjoyed incorporating the approach into her long runs.

I’ve kept this training cycle really conservative, the longest week is around 21 miles and I’m mixed in lots of strength training and cross training to help keep the injuries at bay so that I have a hope in hell of enjoying Bacchus come September!

images: Anna Rachel Photography

Life Lately - The Speed Project, Training, Wedding Plans and Puppies

I’ve been really struggling with writers block lately. I thought I’d come back from my big American adventure and be chomping at the bit to write, and honestly that’s not really been the case and all I’ve wanted to do is sleep! But I don’t want those amazing experiences to slip through the net, so let’s have a catch up and chat about life lately!

The Speed Project

Where do you even begin telling the story of such an epic adventure? 8 women, 5 crew and 340 miles from LA to Las Vegas, it was emotional and crazy, euphoric and painful, a true feat of focus and determination on the part of every person in the team. We were on the move for 60 hours, ran through amazing scenery and shady-as towns, fought, hugged, joked and argued. We felt every emotion going, had every thought, chatted so much sh*t and ate a hell of a lot of bagels and flatbread. It was insane and I came away from it really struggling to process everything that had happened.

image: Kaye Ford

image: Kaye Ford

I guess the biggest thing for me during the race was injury. I’d only run 1.5 miles when my achilles became unbearably painful - hot tight pain that stopped me in my tracks and meant I was on the radio to the car calling in an injury. I WAS SO PISSED OFF. I felt weak and pathetic, a let down to myself and my team. Of course I would end up the weakest link, why on earth did I think I had any right to be taking part in something like this? The thoughts going through my mind were a case study in beating yourself out and I’m ashamed to say I was sulky for a good few hours until our rolfer Michael helped ease out my muscles. Sadly the relief didn’t last long and my next leg the pain was back, but the mindset wasn’t. Yes I was frustrated for a moment, but as quickly as it started the negative self-talk was gone and my mind was wholly focused on what I could do. I knew I could run a mile at a time, and for every mile I ran that was one less my team mates needed to run. I also knew I could walk the sections that were technically very hard to run, so my team mates could save their legs. So I flexed and changed the plan, not the goal, in all running close to 40 miles (we think, I didn’t actually keep count) jumping in and out of the car and pushing myself to my limit.

image: Kaye Ford

image: Kaye Ford

TSP was the hardest and most epic adventure, and I am sure as I process more of my thoughts I’ll share more about it here now. But for the time being, if you ever get the opportunity to take part just say yes.

Training and Injury

When I decided to carry on running despite my injury I knew I was taking a big risk and that I wouldn’t be running for awhile afterwards. This isn’t something I’d do normally, but in the circumstances I made an informed decision to go with it. Coupled with the strain to my achilles, and the impact this had on my calf and knee as other muscles worked to accommodate the injury, I also took a fall during TSP which left me with scrapes and bruises up my left side and impact injuries to my hip and knee. All in all I arrived in Las Vegas in a bit of a state.

image: Kaye Ford

image: Kaye Ford

After TSP Mike and I had had all sorts of plans to go trail running in Joshua Tree, but my injuries meant this was off the cards and instead I spent time walking, resting and wallowing in hot tubs! It was pretty wonderful, but it was also awesome to get back to getting a sweat on in LA at my first ever Soul Cycle class (I cannot wait until the London studio opens this summer!) and since I got home I’ve found indoor cycling has been great for keeping my fitness up without doing further damage to my ankle.

I’m working with sports therapists to strengthen up my ankle and to address asymmetry between my right leg and my left leg so that in 4-6 weeks I’ll be able to get back to running (very gradually, probably following couch to 5km).

image: Kaye Ford

image: Kaye Ford

Honestly I’m not too down about the injury. It isn’t comfortable, but I knew the risks I was taking during the TSP and for me it is a small price to pay for something that meant so much to me. Not that this is an approach I’d suggest anyone else take!

Wedding Plans

Wow this last month has been an emotional rollercoaster! First there was all the feelings before, during and after TSP and then Mike went and proposed while I was hanging out in a rock on Split Rock Trail in Joshua Tree!

image: Let Me Show You Love

image: Let Me Show You Love

I won’t lie, we’ve been discussing this for awhile, but it was still very exciting when he actually asked (well, once I’d got past the confusion of wondering i. why he was fumbling in his pocket and ii. why he was handing me a medal, I seriously thought one of the other girls had left it in the SUV and didn’t know why he was giving it to me now!).

image: Let Me Show You Love

image: Let Me Show You Love

Neither of us are particularly into the idea of a long engagement, so we’ve decided to get married in London on 26 October 2019. Although a couple of people have been shocked and asked how we can possibly plan a wedding in that time (especially one for 150 people), it’s actually been really straightforward and I’m planning to share some more on the process we went through soon. It’s also extremely cool that everything has come together the way it has as it means we can get married in our neighbourhood and have our reception at a venue we know and love.

You can read about how I bought my dress here.

PUPPIES!!

This is the other reason I’ve not been writing much or posting on Instagram this week - we adopted a puppy and he is a handful!

A Life Update - The Speed Project, Training, Wedding Plans and Puppies - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Loki is a 9 week old Brussels Griffon and he is the cutest thing I have ever been in the presence of. Teeny tiny weeny, so soft and generally against the idea of sleeping at night time. We love him a lot.

A puppy had been on the agenda for awhile, but we wanted to wait and decide which breed would be best for us and find a breeder who we really liked. A couple of weeks ago the stars aligned and we discovered Loki was looking for a forever home. After meeting him, both his parents and his amazing breeder Elena we knew he was the one and took the plunge. It’s a huge deal adopting a puppy and Loki has totally upended our lives (and destroyed our sleep patterns), but it feels right for us and I’m so glad he has come into our lives.

So that’s where we’re at right now. It’s insane, overwhelming and very emotional, but I wouldn’t change it! Now back to marvelling at Loki’s tiny paws and grumpy little face!